More than 10 house church leaders in Hunan province criminally detained on cult charges in ongoing police action

China Aid Association

(Shaoyang, Hunan—Aug. 22, 2014) In what appears to be an ongoing operation, police in central China’s Hunan province earlier this month put under criminal detention at least 10 leaders from multiple house churches in at least four different counties, according to local Christians.

They were among at least 15 pastors and lay leaders taken into police custody in a police action that began on Aug. 7 and appeared to be ongoing a week later. The criminal detention notice of the 10 said they had organized cults and sects and used superstition to undermine law enforcement. Criminal detention is the first step in the Chinese legal process to being formally charged with a crime, and a conviction is almost always inevitable.

The affected house churches were located in the counties of Longhui, Dongkou, Xinning and Wugang, all of them under the jurisdiction of the city of Shaoyang.

When China Aid reporter Qiao Nong spoke to local believers on Aug. 14, they said the police action appeared to be continuing, and appeared to have stemmed from an incident in which a Christian woman was handing out Gospel tracts and gave one to a government employee from a local police station. This employee followed some Christians to their meeting site, and then notified the police, who came and started taking people into custody.

While in custody, the Christians were interrogated by police, who questioned them closely about the bank passbooks they had with them. The police wanted to know where the money in the accounts had gone. When the Christians said the funds had been donated, the police wanted to know who the recipients of the donations were. In answering the question, the Christians gave the names of all the Christian leaders in Hunan province. The police roundup proceeded based on this name list, and those taken into custody were locked up in detention centers, a woman surnamed Yang told the China Aid reporter.

She said that once they had the names, “The entire police force was mobilized and they went out to round them up. In addition, the personal bank accounts of the believers were frozen by the police who also took the cash in their homes. They also confiscated the churches’ Bibles and other items, such as photocopies, computers, etc. After they seized these items, they not provide an inventory list. This was how they took people away and locked them up in detention centers.”

“They were still rounding people up yesterday,” Yang said on Aug. 14. “They have already taken about 15 people into custody.” She said that at least two of them were taken from their homes, not from the venue where the believers had been meeting.

Based on information from multiple sources, the following five people from Longhui county were placed under criminal detention: Fan Tianying, Sun Jue, Hu Qingxi, Li Fenge and Luo Longjiang; four people from Dongku county have been taken to Shaoyang for a month of compulsory study, and the following six people, also from Dongku, have been placed under criminal detention: Liu Manxiu, Deng Xuexiang, Long Shijiang, Zeng Weiqing, Zeng Weigang and Yin Shiting.

“We urgently need the foreign media to report this incident. If they don’t, the police will continue to arrest people,” said a pastor who had supplied some of the names and details. He said that police took at least one person into custody without an arrest warrant or detention papers.

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